Peter Joseph’s work rewards those interested in painting; it is subtle, charming and it looks good. While certainly admirable qualities charm and subtlety alone don’t make paintings remarkable. It is the trickiness of Joseph’s pictures that makes them resonate. A lot is done within purposefully limited parameters. Ostensibly uncomplicated in nature Joseph’s compositions manage to be effortlessly evocative. They demonstrate a confidence that comes with a deep knowledge of the medium.
One of Painting’s great strengths is its frankness: pigment applied to support; paint on a surface. It is not reliant on technology and it requires neither specialist knowledge nor mastery of esoteric technique. (Although of course it does not preclude these things.) This simplicity and openness is the likely reason it has endured and will, undoubtedly, continue to endure. The scope for variety and invention is massive while the basic foundations of the medium remain secure. For me painting is about making and looking; process and the visual. It is a discipline which relies on these two factors and as long as they remain relevant so too will it.
In Chris Shaw’s painting the process of paring down manages to concentrate rather than diminish. Idea and method meld as one; the physical and the conceptual combining in the most pleasing way. His practice is as much sculpture as it is painting; his works cast and assembled rather than rendered. Paint is manipulated after it has dried in the most considered way. These are methodical, meticulous works; self-consciously concerned with process and Painting’s past.
They manage to be both deadpan and theatrical; purposefully spare with flourishes that allude to something a little more frivolous (the ephemera of parties, drapery and costume in the case of the work shown here). Shaw’s is thoughtful work well made.
Paul Behnke’s paintings don’t skirt around the issue.
Subtlety is not their mode. His is full frontal painting; bold, engaging, direct. It is painting that deals with the strengths of painting itself. It is work about method and significant form; work that displays the process of the artist and rewards the viewer’s gaze. It may not always be fashionable to make work that is so specifically concerned with visual experience; but if it is good (and Behnke’s is) it will always be valid.